And then I got up

It was the most horrific of reactions:  writhing and such.

Even our pup could not make guttural sounds like me in my muck.

Earlier I sensed a reaction soon was a’comin’ . . .

And lo on the way home the tics started showin.’

So we showered once home, throwing our clothes in the wash

In case you think romance followed I’ll tell ya that was ‘nash —

Not the way it came down I say as I leaped into bed

Barely dried off and with a wet towel flung from my head.

An hour many would not survive followed me in there

I marveled as my lungs, heart, and mind would again persevere.

My beloved raised me in his arms to feed me some water

Then with more wimpers and smaller jolts he sensed the cause of the matter:

An older building, became soiled with everything one could imagine

‘Twas cosmetically upgraded with bright lights and smiles on everyone.

It was hard to tell during a visit as important as this

That there would be hell to pay later for pursuing a visit.

But that’s the way it goes when your brother finally gets the care he needs

In a 4-star nursing home upgraded from one he survived where they could subtract at least 3.

We chatted, we laughed and the pupster Elle provided all the charm

The rekindling of family love, fulfilled with treats from my oven still warm.

Then came the gift from my bro when Mike let me play O.T.

And minister to his contracted frame, providing hope to both him and me.

My skills were still there and his muscle memory someday could return

Lord willing we shall see His purpose and be grateful for this wild ‘journ.

So how can I complain that some new treatment of my own did not hold

When I just started 2 days ago then walked into a fiery test a bit too bold.

‘Cause long after the last jolt, the last choreathetoid seize

I was able to get up and make myself something to eat.

Now sitting here listening to my slumbering beloved who works in the ‘morn

I am grateful for so much although tonight so much is yet unknown.

“When will this crap end?” I ask myself and the darkened night air

“In just a little while,” responds the Lover of my soul Who holds my life in His care.

So even in this I will trust in the God Who has promised

That all things will be good.  Get back to bed.  Good golly it’s almost (morning)!


Mike and Julie at Medilodge in Michigan
Mike and Julie at Medilodge in Michigan


A Pig for Sale

Only in Indiana.  Or maybe in any other State with farming.  Well that would include all 50 States.  I guess it’s just new to me . . .

The Facebook page for selling stuff in my town had a posting for a pig for sale:  $300 for the live beast.  I actually thought about it for a moment!  The biggest issue would be finding a place to store all of that meat.  Our lil’ freezer just ain’t big enough for my hubby’s ice cream and my bone broth in addition to a virtual bevvy of pork!  Darn.  I’ve been missing BBQ ribs for some time now!

I suppose that someone else with a chest or upright freezer will jump on the offer.  Maybe our neighbor who bought our used freezer will find it in her budget to feast on Porky Pig for the rest of the year?  Or maybe not.  But if she invites us over for some Famous Dave-style ribs I am sure that we would oblige!  We will even bring my Grandma’s famous potato salad.  Yeah I won’t forget the horseradish, pickle relish, and bacon grease (aka “secret ingredients”)!

Porky Pig here.
Porky Pig here.

We live in a time where you can buy and sell just about anything.  With the diversity of our world and our accessibility to most of it via the internet, we can get much of what we want for a price.  Do you want someone to paint your business logo on his hairy belly and sing a song for you?  Just check out the gigs on and it will be yours for the price of a latte’.  My preference for that one would be “NOPE.”  That is, in the physical realm.  There are other realms for which I would need a song you know.  And tonight my heart realm can’t buy me even a lullaby for peace of mind.  My heart is breaking and there simply is not much I can do about it but pray.

My brother, Mike, whom everyone else calls Michael, continues to live in a wretched inner city nursing home after a serious stroke.  He is four months post-CVA and three months enduring the “3 hots and a cot” provided by a one-star facility.  I flipped when I found out that he had an infectious rash on his hemiplegic hand!  I asked his fiancé and Mike to check for signs of bed bugs and call the State Ombudsman immediately if they found any signs of them.  Mike’s roommate itches too.  Hopefully it will be a case of an allergic reaction to the laundry detergent.  But why would the bumps become infected?  Good golly.  Water (no juice, milk, or coffee) for breakfast, a delayed response for significantly elevated blood pressure, and no follow-up whatsoever on a 6 cm kidney tumor ARE ONLY THE FIRST THREE items in the long list of substandard care complaints.  So sad.

Lisa, Mike’s precious fiancé, is at her wit’s end trying to get Veteran’s Administration or Medicaid benefits processed correctly to change his situation.  She faithfully visits him when she can, brings him home-cooked food, and follows up the paperwork nightmare as Mike’s legal guardian.  Just when I wonder if things moving forward fast enough or why she hasn’t returned my phone calls I find out that she has started a new job to try an better their overall situation.  She is such a trooper.  Thank the Lord for Lisa’s love and care for her Michael.  And our cousin, Lisa, helps out where she can as well.  Cousin Lisa is an optometrist for the nursing home and has more than once been able to positively influence his care by her presence, her visiting, her dipomacy, her support of fiancé Lisa.  They are doing the best they can and that is both a gift and all I can ask from 200 miles away.

This is such a curious situation, you know.  I am an occupational therapist with over 30 years of professional experience including patients with the very same medical condition as my brother.  Yet due to a severe illness I am enduring, I cannot even visit him!  The dirty conditions of his living environment would surely trigger seizure-like attacks for me.  Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, or whatever you want to call this nightmare is keeping me from seeing my brother.  And this is the Lord’s plan for both of us right now.  I don’t understand it.  My heart is hurting.  I would be honored to work more closely with Mike, even provide supplemental therapy or visits.  I cannot do it right now.  Oh sure, I send him something in the mail occasionally or make a phone call to his facility and get placed on hold for a very, very long time before actually getting through to anyone less than 50% of the time.  We are all doing what we can and waiting on the Lord.  It’s just so very frustrating for each of us!

So if you’ve got an extra 300 bucks to donate to our cause, kindly send it to St. F—— Nursing Center in D—–, room 207.  Leave the pig and get my brother out of there please!  They might not notice Mike missing for awhile since a piece of meat is a piece of meat when you don’t care much for the sweet sense of humor that used to characterize my tall lanky sibling.  Oh geez, I’m getting a little upset here aren’t I?  Well at least the pig will stomach the food a little better without complaining.  Like the Cheerio’s commercial said many decades ago, “he’ll eat anything!  Hey Mikey!”  Yeah but it won’t be Mikey.  One day Mikey will be gone from the place he and his fiancé are calling, “the dump.”  May the Lord pour out His grace on those left behind when he does go.

I just hope that moving day will be soon.  O.k.  I’m done venting.  Gotta get back to praying.  JJ

sad pig

Inspired by Michael

Gotta love a wacky sense of humor!  Call it gallows humor if you will.  Today it is keeping me sane.

Here are a few momentos as I support my brother, Mike, recovering from a stroke.  Enjoy!  JJ

No Kidding!
No Kidding!
My favorite.  Have a good day all!
My favorite. Have a good day all!


oldcarguys pepsihope sick sense of humor strokerecoverysick sense of humoroldcarguyslife-support-computer-humorHIPPA humorheadnurseonfloor'Yummo Toothpaste contains no caffeine, and cleans your teeth better than Coke or Pepsi!'

This one looks like Mike!
This one looks like Mike!
Michael George Lech
Michael George Lech

So where are we now? Much better than “clean and dry.”

I will never forget Julia.  She had a petite frame, a blondish hue to her gray hair and a sweet disposition even with her eyes closed.  She kept her eyes closed most of the time in those days.  Oh what a sweet treasure it was when she would open her droopy eyelids, worn out from the years of looking at what simply did not matter anymore.  When they did pop open, her eyes were as blue as that of a spritely, young thang yet their life was no longer shining through their looking glass anymore.

Julia let you know what she wanted by the gestures of her contracted and weakened frame.  She held her arms in a flexed posture near to her chest and her legs were drawn up above the seat height of the modified geri chair upon which she sat, semi-reclined.  I don’t even think that her feet touched the foot rests most of the time:  pale pink padded foam to match the waterproof cover of the end-of-life bark-a-lounger in which she sat when out of bed.  Julie must have weighed 90 pounds when I met her.  She leaned to the right then to the left depending upon the position the Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) had plopped her in until nap time.  The frail bird of a woman was transferred to bed each afternoon at least an hour after lunchtime, to prevent regurgitation you know.  That is also when she would be checked to make sure her diaper was clean and dry.  If not before her nap, the CNAs took care of her diaper change later for a total of about three times per day.  To keep her “clean and dry” was the charge of the nursing staff of the long term care wing and staffing ratios made sure it that it probably did not happen any more than that for tender ladies like Julia who could not ask for more.

I met Julia while working as an occupational therapist in the rehabilitation unit of this long term care facility.  Periodically we would receive referrals for residents whose MDS (government mandated) scores triggered a decline in the functioning of a resident, requiring a screening assessment from a member of the rehabilitation therapy team.  This particular episode was likely triggered by weight loss which may indicate possible feeding issues.  Or it may indicate improper positioning in the geri chair restricting swallowing, restricting nutritional intake.  She was already seated at a “feeder” half-circle table in the occupational therapy clinic at mealtimes so I had seen her while I was eating my own lunch in an adjacent office.  My role would now become evaluating all of the factors in her decline once the screening assessment triggered an order for an “occupational therapy evaluation” then treatment.

Residents such as Julia are very complex for the reasons that I have already stated.  At some level, you must detach from the emotional impact of working with someone in the last stages of his or her life with advanced medical conditions and dementia.  Then again, when I got to see those blue eyes meeting my own brown eyes for a brief moment in time, I knew that there was more than a long term resident in front of me.  I was looking through those eyes to the heart of a woman who once was someone’s mother, another’s grandmother, a man’s darling and petite wife, and someone whom many once loved.  I loved those connections when our eyes would meet!

I am grateful to say that I don’t think that I ever lost sight of these defining “occupational roles,” the presence of one of God’s children placed before me, when asked to evaluate and treat a person entrusted to my care.  I am grateful for even the somewhat gross experience of feeding a shell of a person (which would have been required through the course of my intervention) even though she would likely spit up some of the pureed foods presented to her.  She probably smelled rank at times after an episode of incontinence when she could not communicate her need to “use the ladies’ room” after dining with the other “feeders.”  Arrrgh!  How I hated that label!

I would have initiated taking Julia to her hospital bed with one of the aides and assisted with “toileting hygiene” even though it was a “feeding assessment” because that care became a part of my job description too:  it would help me to evaluate Julia’s sitting balance/tolerance/posture, level of arousal with gross motor stimulation, righting and equilibrium reactions and more that influence a seated posture for the “activity of daily living” called eating.  How better to evaluate someone than within a real-life activity than to transfer her onto a vinyl mat . . . smelling like feces?  Helping Julia become “clean and dry” before the aides had time to do so after their smoke break always seemed noble as well . . .

Julia’s story had a sad ending.  I watched her continue to decline long after our occupational therapy sessions and staff training were completed.  Julia continued to require maximum assistance with feeding and eventually accepted less nourishment from the aides at mealtimes.  An astute and skilled nurse who loved the patients in the long term care wing determined that Julia had a fecal impaction and notified the family.  Julia had a “Do Not Resuscitate” order on her chart and the family were ready to let her go.  Perhaps the heartache of seeing her endure this end stage of life was just too much for them to bear anymore?  But the illness that resulted in her death was not a major medical event.  It was a fecal impaction.  The end of her life was gross and undignified.   The gracious nurse personally assumed the responsibility of keeping Julia “clean and dry.”  This time the toileting hygiene that was needed was in her mouth . . .

Perhaps you can imagine what I am describing here without having to write another word about it.  Many who knew and cared for Julia were deeply grieved at her passing.  To discuss her quality of life, the anguish of an end-of-life decision, or the crises of the skilled nursing industry is not the intent of this article.  My intent is to tap into the compassion I once felt on a daily basis that brought gratitude for the opportunity I was given to serve others in their time of need.  I did what I could, with what I had, to the best of my ability at that particular time in my life.  Caring for others kept my mind clearer of the whining that can occur for my own limitations, unmet needs, illness, and sorrows.  I don’t have that caregiver role right now.  Even so, I will never forget my experience with Julia and it is good to remember her on a day like today.

No, the hope I had that my pattern of noxious symptoms was changing did not last for more than two days.  Oh well.  I thought about deleting the blog from August 2, 2013.  If I had deleted it, I would have missed reaching deeper into my heart to find the memory of Julia who had taught me so much about life so many years ago.  In the larger scheme of things, two days with a few hours of relief is barely enough time to do anything, experience anything of lasting significance anyways except maybe a trauma of some sort.  I shall hold out my hope for two months!

In the meantime, I will open my brown eyes and see if I can find something else to focus on today.  Six-thirty in the evening is a great time to take a shower in the “p.m. shift” of my daily schedule so I can present myself clean and . . . pretty for my husband when he returns home from more noble activities.  It’s a lovely evening so maybe there is something I can do with it, even if it is sitting within view of the pretty gardens outside my window.  Oh how I wish you could see them!  There’s a hummingbird who is coming around a lot more now too.  Very cool.

See there?  I think I’ve landed in a better place after all.  We are “there” and it is meaningful after all.hummingbird